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Disease Watch: Late Blight

Late blight disease caused by Phytophthora infestans devastates potato foliage and tubers. The pathogen can survive between growing seasons as mycelium in potato tubers and plant tissues, and on alternative hosts of Solanaceae family. The pathogen may also overwinter as oospores in soil. Infected tubers used for seed or discarded onto cull piles or infected volunteer potatoes are sources of infection for the new growing season. In addition to potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant,…

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Psyllids and Zebra Chip

University of Lethbridge biogeography professor Dan Johnson has been monitoring Prairie potato fields for the past few years, looking for evidence of the potato psyllid and a bacterium it can carry that can lead to zebra chip disease in potato crops. The good news: So far in 2017, the number of potato psyllids has been lower than in previous years, both in Canada and the U.S. The better news: None of the…

Zebra chip-tolerant potatoes for the fresh market

Over the past few years, the potato production in the United States, Mexico, New Zealand and Central America has been under threat of the zebra chip (ZC), a disease associated with the Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum bacteria, transmitted by the potato psyllid (Bactericera cockerelli). The disease turns part of the amide in soluble sugars so, when potatoes are cooked, sugars caramelize and streaks appear. Zebra chip is monitored with pesticides, but sustainable defence…

Banks: Ontario Variety Trial Results

Ed. note: On Sept. 4, 2017, Eugenia Banks, potato specialist with the Ontario Potato Board, dug up the Beeton (Ontario) Variety Trial plot that was embedded in a grower’s field. These are her observations: The flooding that occurred on June 23, as a result of a five-inch rain, kept the plants under water for 30 hours. I expected  a total loss. However the grower worked hard to save my plot and the…

Potato Storage: Keeping an Eye on the Prize

The case could be made that caring for potatoes and for children have a lot in common: Let your guard down for a minute and you’ll pay for it in the end. Like parenting, potato storage is an area in which expert advice can save a lot of headaches and wrong turns. In this edition of Roundtable, Spud Smart turned to three experts on the ins and outs of potato storage: Robert…

Widespread scab reported as UK potato harvest progresses

As the potato harvest in the United Kingdom progresses, there are increasing reports of widespread scab. The weather in the United Kingdom was mixed last week, with some cooler temperatures but also warm and muggy at times. Rain showers have been sporadic and widespread. In the East, good and often above average yields have been reported for the region with lifting ahead of previous years. Lifting of early varieties is underway and…

Hybrid breeding technology protects potato from fungus

In a hidden experimental field in Wageningen, the Netherlands, surrounded by tall maize plants, there are several smaller plots with potato plants. In some of these plots there are only dead plants, in others the plants have been affected by late blight (Phytophthora infestans) to a greater or lesser extent, but there are also fields with only perfectly healthy potatoes. The latter are the result of the latest crosses by the Wageningen…

Fast-Tracking Extreme Resistance

A key tool in the arsenal for controlling potato virus Y (PVY) is cultivar resistance. Now, researchers are developing better molecular markers for faster, more accurate screening of potato breeding lines for “extreme resistance” to PVY – equivalent to PVY immunity. That will enable breeders to more efficiently develop new varieties with total protection against this serious disease. “PVY is one of the most widespread viruses and also one of the most…

Dutch company develops new blight-resistant potato

The Dutch company Solynta has developed a potato variety that is resistant to late blight (Phytophthora infestans). As a result, it could greatly reduce the use of pesticides in agriculture. The company plans to unveil its new blight-resistant potato later this week. The potato disease causes widespread damage to potato stocks worldwide every year, despite the intensive use of pesticides. Richard Visser, chair and head plant breeding at Wageningen University & Research,…

Scottish Potato Industry Unites to Fund Major Blackleg Research Project

A group of major potato businesses and public sector organizations, including the Scottish government and AHDB, is sponsoring a £242,000 (USD 313,000) research project aimed at reducing the impact of potato disease blackleg on the Scottish seed potato industry. AHDB and the Scottish government joint-funded a project during 2013-2016 which provided significant new information on blackleg and its origins. It also highlighted areas where further investigation is required for improved management of…

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